Patronising. Sexist. Sickening. Lily Allen lashes out

Never shy of an opinion, the queen of cool lets loose on the male-dominated music industry
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The Independent Culture

In her short reign of pop supremacy, Lily Allen has achieved a reputation for sweet music and foul-mouthed rants about her rivals. Now she is directing her venom at the institutional sexism of the music industry.

The singer, who scored a pair of No 1 hits this summer, has joined the ranks of high-profile stars who have lashed out at the male-dominated music world. Allen has been stung by the music bible NME, which she claims has sold her - and other women - down the river.

Allen, the 21-year-old daughter of the actor Keith Allen, claims she was stitched up after being asked to pose for a cover celebrating women in rock - then the shot was swopped for one of a male band, because it would sell more copies.

Her bile poured out as the paper named her the third coolest figure in the music world, ahead of Thom Yorke and Pete Doherty. Half of the top 10 of the NME's annual "cool list", chosen by the paper's writers, are female, and the top 50 is headed by Beth Ditto, the 15-stone American gay singer who fronts dance-punk act The Gossip.

Allen said she agreed to take part to emphasise the power of women in the music industry. "As the context was so important (i.e. a strong female presence in music) I thought I might as well put aside my differences and do it. I did find it interesting that they wanted to put five women on the cover, and wanted to name 2006 our year."

She posed for photos but was horrified to find when the magazine came out last week, the image had been switched to a main shot of male rock trio Muse. "You thought that your readers might not buy a magazine with an overweight lesbian and a not particularly attractive-looking me on the front," she wrote in her blog. "Wankers."

She said the editorial team should "take [their] heads out of their arses" and "think about [their] responsibilities to youth culture and to women in general".

Allen was outraged by a comment from the editor of NME, Conor McNicholas, in which he said that women "brought new energy to a scene dominated by men. They're also living proof that you can still rock a crowd when you're wearing stilettos".

Allen spat back: "I mean how fucking patronising - 'You can still rock a crowd wearing stilettos.' Is that all we are, stiletto-wearing people? Is that all he could say, that we brought a 'new energy' to the music scene? Don't make me sick, we've always been here."

In the 1990s the short-lived feminist movement Riot Grrrl gathered pace in the UK and US to fight back against the sexism of the music industry, but its influence was brief.

NME did not want to go into the specifics of Allen's grievances. A spokesman said: "The NME loves Lily and that's why she is number three in our cool list."

On vocals: The wit and wisdom of Lily

Lily on the music industry:

"To a certain extent everyone expects women - especially in this industry - to sit and look pretty and do what they're told. There are a lot of women that come into this industry who are so scared of losing what they have that they just sort of sit up straight."

Lily on drugs:

"Between the ages of 16 and 19 is such a blur; I couldn't do a day without smoking an eighth of weed - I was fucked."

Lily on Pete Doherty:

"I do think he has to be exterminated."

Lily on Victoria Beckham:

"I don't care how much she says that's her natural weight, that's bull."